Eva Mulder, our visiting fellow for the 2022-2023 academic year, joins us from the Netherlands for a postdoctoral research appointment with Lois Presser. Mulder, who holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Groningen and a master’s and PhD in victimology from the University of Tilburg, studies how victims and other parties make sense of and narrate victimization and harm experiences.
Mulder’s dissertation work focused on how social and identity factors influence reactions to hearing others’ stories of sexual victimization. Her interest in stories of harm, specifically within the subfield of narrative victimology, led her to Presser, who served on Mulder’s dissertation committee. When Mulder was awarded a prestigious Dutch research grant, she arranged to do her one-year fellowship here in the department under Presser’s advisement. Presser and Mulder are collaborating on research about the sensemaking and communication of forms of contested harm, and they are recruiting for a study in which participants will converse about experiences of microaggression.
Mulder’s work has explicitly emancipatory aims. In performing her dissertation research, she hoped her project would address an insufficiency in awareness of what nonconsensual sex looks like as well as acknowledge less “clear-cut” experiences of sexual violence that many women face. In her ongoing work with Presser, she seeks to boost understanding of the subtle harms that marginalized people experience and connect these experiences to larger patterns of social inequality and structural oppression.
Mulder is new to both the US and the formal discipline of sociology, and she has found surprises within both realms. She notes that hearing about issues like gun control and recent developments in abortion rights in the US has been shocking. However, she has been pleased by the activist bent of the department and the seeming willingness of faculty to engage in value-laden scholarship in the face of these challenges.
After her year in Knoxville is finished, Mulder hopes to continue with research and scholarship. She hopes to help broaden the aims of victimology, using constructive inquiry that is oriented toward building openness and connection between people. She is also invested in interdisciplinary and cross-institutional work, and she plans to connect with those outside of academia to enhance the meaning and impact of victimological work. Ultimately, Mulder believes deeply in the possibility of social change through, in her words, “the co-creation of new and better truths.” All of us in the department are thrilled at the opportunity to work alongside and learn from her during her time in the US.
By Alexandra Szmutko